Authorities in Siem Reap are awaiting the arrival of an expert from Bangkok to examine remains discovered near Angkor Thom temple on Wednesday evening that police believe are those of missing Canadian journalist and author Dave Walker.
Chao Mao Vireak, chief of the Siem Reap Provincial Immigration Police Unit, said the location of the body – just a few hundred metres from the entrance to the popular tourist destination – had been secured by Cambodian police and would remain undisturbed until a doctor with expertise in forensics arrived from Bangkok to examine the scene.
“So far, the body of the Canadian victim has not been examined by Cambodian police, because now we are waiting for a specialised doctor who will be sent from Bangkok, in Thailand, to examine the body on Friday [today],” Mao Vireak said. “This doctor was selected by the Canadian Embassy there.
“The body now is still being kept in the forest, and is at the same place where he was found dead. The body will be moved from the place to the provincial police headquarters after the completion of the examination.”
Walker, 58, was last seen on February 14 when he left his Siem Reap guesthouse to allow staff to clean his room.
His phone, computer and personal effects were all left behind, and his whereabouts remained shrouded in mystery until the discovery of the remains on Wednesday evening.
Major Pheng Pich, deputy chief of the provincial technical and scientific police unit in Siem Reap, said the remains were found by children who went to pick fruit in dense forest about 250 metres from the Elephant Terrace feature of the Angkor Thom temple complex at about 5pm.
“Two . . . men who are the person’s friends, and who came to directly view the body, have testified that he was their friend named Mr Dave Walker, who disappeared since February 2014, because they remembered his clothes and trousers and his shoes,” he added.
Pich said that police had preliminarily concluded Walker had not been murdered, because “there were no wounds on his body”. However, Brad Gordon, an attorney representing Walker’s family in Cambodia, said yesterday that the police’s conclusion was premature.
“We’re not accepting that. I think some further examinations need to be done,” he said.
An investigation sanctioned by the family was carried out in cooperation with Cambodian police, but Gordon declined to comment on whether it pointed towards foul play.
A statement released by Gordon yesterday on behalf of Walker’s family thanked police for their cooperation, and called for a fuller investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death.
“Dave Walker’s family asks that the Cambodian authorities continue their efforts to determine the cause of Dave’s disappearance and death,” says the statement, which also calls on the Canadian government to begin formally investigating the case.
The Canadian Embassy in Bangkok could not be reached for comment.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STUART WHITE